Friday, January 31, 2014

Hey, Pro-Biz Types in Pierre--Get A Load Of Who Supports Same-Sex Marriage In This Country

     Here's who some of them are:  Cummins Engine, Eli Lilly, Nike, General Mills, Apple, General Electric and Google; and here's what they have in common:  They've put up serious sums of money to fight state bans on same-sex marriage and/or joined up with about 100 companies in a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court opposing California's ban last year.  There's a thoughtful piece about this development in The American Conservative, which you can read here.  TAC, by the way is a great collection of true conservative thought, "true conservative" meaning a belief that the essence of freedom is personal liberty and the inherent right of people to live their lives the way they see fit--including the right to consider themselves married whether some folks like it or not.  Why this is even a fight in a country that since day one has been dedicated to the principle that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a continuing mystery to me as I watch the political process regarding same-sex marriage unfolding in Pierre.  That those rights are endowed by their "Creator" seems to be an overlooked point by those whose abhorrence to same-sex marriage  has a religious basis. 
     South Dakota legislators troubled by the existence of same-sex marriage seem to be glibly overlooking the effect of their homophobic attitudes on South Dakota's public persona.  This should  concern  our more practicality-oriented elected officials, particularly Governor Daugaard, whose State of the State speech last week was dripping with plans for increased economic developmentThere's a reason that, say, Cummins Inc. (one the world's largest manufacturers of diesel engines) and the drug giant Eli Lilly put up $100k each in a fight against a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Indiana.  Marya Rose, the chief  administrator at Cummins, puts it this way:  “If we have a climate in our state that makes people feel unwelcome in any way, we think that’s bad for Cummins, and we think that’s bad for business."  You can read more about this at the Bloomberg site here.  
     As a businessman myself, I know that public relations are the essence of good marketing.  I'm also pretty confident that many of the businesses I cite or that can be found in the links above don't particularly have a position on same-sex marriage, per se.  They're more interested in functioning in states and communities that provide them with the widest and deepest customer base and labor pool.  Selectively excluding (or at least making feel unwelcome) considerable segments of the population only limits a business's capacity to operate and make money.  Given that estimates of the size of the homosexual population in this country generally range between 10% and 20% (a Smithsonian magazine report from the National Bureau of Economic Research last October suggests 20%--a study you can find here), cutting that many people out of a sphere of economic activity like the state of South Dakota is a serious detriment to the state's ability to compete and grow economically.  Fact is, it's just plain bad business.  South Dakota's elected officials should consider whether this is a bad time in the development of the U.S. for our state to be on the wrong side of history.  

2 comments:

  1. I don't get this antigay hatred speech. For me this hate speech sounds very familiar that goes back to Civil Rights era. For me it’s the very same vitriolic speech that was used toward the African Americans. Listen to George Wallace and replace the N word with Gay and the similarity is stark in today’s political language. Senator Rand Paul recently stated that he abhors racism of any kind but the government has no right on how a business should operate or who their customers should be. Now replace today's political racism language with gay or LGBT and we are repeating history. I don’t get.

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  2. Disturbing, indeed, Mr. Nordstrom. We profess to live in a free society, but so many of us are incapable of tolerating those with different values and lifestyles. I wonder if Paul understands that many, many businesses, even small mom and pop type ventures, depend on the government for their very existence, yet when it comes to enforcing standards that insure freedom of commerce for both customers and proprietors, Paul feels the government should stay away. I think History will make the anti-gay forces irrelevant in time, but it takes a nudge from those who simply won't stand for publicly condoned intolerance. Appreciate the comment.

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